Section 98 – Open Source Entry #4 – Checking for a Pulse
Amnesty International launched this multi-platform human rights awareness campaign in Belgium.
by Aislinn Rose
Ever since our most recent workshop in January, my research has been focussed on ways in which we can incorporate wireless and cellular technology into our HATCH work-in-progress. In particular, we’re trying to find out the best way to allow our audience members to send us text messages throughout the show so that we can project them on screens and/or televisions. (We have some ideas, but if you’ve got any advice, please feel free to share it in the comments). When it comes to figuring out the solution, we have to keep asking ourselves, “What do we need it for?” – a great question both logistically and theatrically.
As mentioned previously, we want to engage all of you in the debate about civil rights, and we want to do that before, during, and after our presentations. So we’re using all of the resources we have available to us, including the theatre, our website, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever hand-held gadget you’re currently addicted to (it’s the iPhone for me). As theatre artists we’re looking at political content and attempting to agitate you and bring awareness by employing some of the techniques typically employed by activists, and there are all kinds of activists who inspire us… and some who are even turning around and using theatrical techniques to get their points across.
The campaign by Amnesty International asked the humans of Belgium to wake up, and what I particularly like about it is that it’s asking a progressive society to stop taking their human rights for granted, reminding them that they must remain forever vigilant. So are we awake in Canada? A few of us (across the political spectrum) seemed to be on January 23rd. But what about when it comes to stickier, less black and white issues? It seems too easy to want to defend human rights when it’s a child being denied entrance to a school, or a couple being refused a marriage ceremony in a church.
It appears to become more of a challenge to remain awake and engaged when we’re talking about the rights of someone who has (allegedly) fought against us, who has engaged in illegal activities, who has been deemed an enemy or a traitor. But when does a human being stop deserving basic human rights? Surely if human rights are something worth fighting for, then we should be willing to fight for them in every situation.
I’ve been searching for a quote for the last several weeks in relation to our Section 98 project and to the issue of civil rights in general, and I think I finally found it. It is attributed to Margaret Chase Smith a former Republican Senator from Maine, and she said, “the right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character”. So while it may be unpopular, I’d like to know when we’re bringing Omar Khadr home.
By the way, did you know that music by a number of popular western bands (including R.E.M., Pearl Jam and Rage Against the Machine) has also been used to torture detainees in Guantanamo Bay and Iraq? I’ll leave you with this little number from Rage Against the Machine… but I will say this, it would be a pretty good torture device for me as well. And also: Keanu Reeves’ movies.